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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  July 27, 2012 1:00am-1:30am EDT

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be from gm or citibank or morgan stanley, who would have been giving speeches up until the last minute about how who needs the government? the government should be minimal, it wasn't radek dvorak castle kor marxist that brought the leaders in but the leaders of capitalism that understood they reached a dead end, without the government there was no hope and they became the greatest enenthusiasts for massive government intervention -- >> rose: without intervention it would have been over. >> that was their view. >> rose: not just their view a lot of people's view. >> a lot of people's view and it is probably true, yes. and so we bailed them out, they said -- >> rose: that was the operative reason for bailout. >> >> rose: that the system would clams. >> right. but the question is, do you avoid system clams with that kind of a bail without that makes no fundamental changes, so that we look now at a story then these banks were too big to fail and without exception they are bigger now than they were at the time we said that. this is a society that is
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pinning out of control when it does such glaringly contradictory things and we all know it and fog happens. it is as if with the deer caught in the dead light of a process of breakdown that no one seems to be able to get a handle on, and i think it is because we are afraid to ask those basic questions that someone like marx and others wanted us to ask long ago. >> rose: i had a quote from you. >> okay. >> rose:. >> always dangerous. >> rose: to secure the source of reform achieved in the 20th century socialism and communism require doing more going -- require doing more, going further than reform is anywhere understood. >> right. that is my point. i think that if we take our own country as an example, we did extraordinary things in the 1930s in the face of a crisis, even worse than the one we are in now. you know, we are not we are now talking about making less social
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security, people have to remember in the depths of the depression is when we created social security. when everyone said there is no money to do such things as they are saying it now, roosevelt came and created a social security system, creates an unemployment compensation system, creates a federal employment program that filled 12 and a half million jobs between mean 34 and mean 41, all of the things that we are told today -- >> rose: and got everybody back to work. >> finally but a lot was done even before, my point is everything that was done is now in the process of being undone if it hasn't already been. we have the spectacle this morning in the newspaper that this, that just blew me away, stanford wile, former held of citibank announcing that in his mind, we ought to separate the depository banking from investment banking. we did that after the great depression, called the glass stiegel act that make that separation and sanford wile as the chairman of citibank was the
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leading banker that got that repealed with the repeal signed by bill clinton. and he now says, oh, scratching my head, wow, maybe we should haven't done that. >> rose: that is interesting and actually true and people are asking perhaps some of the things that they believed might not necessarily be modified, and especially after some of the things that have happened since dodd frank and other legislation people are saying well was that enough and should we do more and did it by some incentive on the part of people in congress to look at the regulations and say, should we move people in further? i should say that richard's book is called occupy the economy, a series of conversation with david and david harvey's book is called rebel cities from the right to the city, to the urban revolution. thank you for joining us. see you next time.
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>> funding for charlie rse has
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been provided by the co-clao company, supporting this program since 2002. and american express. additional funding provided by these funders.oo blg,mberro a pf multimedia news and information services worldwide. be more, tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with ed
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helms. he has his bluegrass festival, this year with steve martin. we are glad you could join us for our conversation with ed helms, coming up right now. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. you. thank you. tavis: pleased to welcome ed after getting his start on "the daily show," he has gone on to tremendous success in television and film, including both
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"hangover" films. those two movies have sold more than $1 billion in tickets worldwide, so it probably does not come as a shock that another sequel is in the works. as i mentioned at the top, he is also the host of a music festival here in l.a., called bluegrass situation, running thursday through sunday, if you are in town this week. before we get to all that though, this month, he is also wrapping up the eighth season of the nbc series "the office," and so, here now, a scene from "the office." >> morning. somebody left in such a hurry this morning that she forgot the is. the only thing more delicious than your feet is the feast that i am going to prepare for everyone. >> what is this? >> -- >> is this is an attempt to embarrass me? >> no, of course not.
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i think if we make an exception for you, then we have to make an exception for others, so where does it and. >> how come when other spend time at the office, they are rewarded for it, and when i do it, i am told it is a bit much. is it because i am not an employee? because that is what it feels like. tavis: [laughs] would survive this season, after mr. carell left the building. but you did it. we made a show. tavis: [laughter] it is funny. all you have got to do is put cameras there and say things, and you have got a show. yeah, steve's departure was obviously a loss but an opportunity for everybody. everyone was excited to move on and see what we could do. tavis: when you said
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"opportunity for everybody,"when one of the stars leaves the building, it requires, obviously, a great deal of adjustment. so the loss we get, but how does that create an opportunity? >> well, there is a void of energy, but also a very literal void in the sense that steve's character drove most of the episodes prior to his departure. so when he left, there was a sense of , well, obviously, his job as manager of dunder mifflin became open, which my character stepped into. then there was another -- just a narrative question of how do you -- what do you build the show around? i think we have tried a few different things this season and had a lot of fun. tavis: you came onto the show season two? tavis: three, season three. >> yeah, i joined as a guest
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star for - i had an eight- episode arc. then the storyline that i was brought in to be a part of, which was jim halpert going to stamford, connecticut, for a stretch, became a little more involved. then i came back to dunder mifflin, and then conversations started, well, maybe i could be a series regular, and then that is what happened. to start out -- >> the coolest. tavis: yes. [laughter] >> it is the coolest because i had just -- i was on "the daily show" for, gosh, almost five years, and when i left to do this arc on "the office," it was only two months of work, and "the daily show" was like, "i don't know if we can wait for you. we're going to have to fill your spot when you leave." so it was very much a leap of faith, and i thought, well, i just have to get out there and change the way that i am perceived, because right now, i am just this news guy, and i want to show people that i can
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act and be ridiculous too. opportunity, and then it gave me even a bigger opportunity to join. tavis: you said a few things i want to go back and pick up in a second, in no particular order. let me start with this, because i want to hold "the daily show" conversation for a second. >> sure. tavis: i want to have a whole conversation about satire in just a moment, which i know you are the right person to talk to you about. i just made my first appearance on "colbert" the other night. tavis: i have been asked to do both shows, and i have turned them down perennially, because i did not want to -- >> well, it depends on the context. tavis: exactly. >> yes, you probably did a smart thing. tavis: so we are talking about it, so i finally agreed to doi do not know if i survived it or not, but anyway, it rated well, and i had a lot of fun with it. so we will come back to satire in a second. but to your point that you were five years, you get this opportunity at "the office." the guys at "the daily show" say, "we're not sure, ed, we can hold your slot indefinitely." how does one make the decision to go to something that you know is temporal?
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it is eight episodes. you have got this thing in your faith, as you said. but how do you come around to>> i am very stupid. we should start there. i am not a smart man, and i do not make smart choices. no, the truth is that i really, after four-and-a-half years on "the daily show," i felt like i needed to do something different at that point. there was nothing that "the daily show" was going to offer me, with the very small exception of maybe more screen time, that i had not alreadyso after four-and-a-half years, i was really starting to think, like, what's next? what do i want to do? i wanted to do narrative television and movies, and i just felt like i had to make a strong choice to change how i was perceived, because no one knew that i could act.
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no one knew that i was anything other than a snarky news jerk,so the decision was not that complicated. i was looking. i was really looking for something, and "the office" stepped in. i had a meeting with greg daniels, and i was such a fan of "the office" and steve carell, who i knew from "the daily show." very long, but we were acquaintances, and i just was so impressed with what he was doing and how the show looked and the vibe of it, and i felt like i could fit in. so it was a scary choice, but it was also in a way a no-brainer. tavis: i guess, ostensibly, this could be said of any character that one plays over a period of time, but it occurs to me now at least that both of these characters, the role you played on "the daily show" and on "the office," could lead to typecasting.
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so i am trying to juxtapose your wanting not to be typecast on "the daily show" but stepping into something that could ultimately lead to typecasting, as well. is desperately trying to avoid typecasting is actually avoiding reality. we are all typecast in whatever type that we are, and i think that if you can sort of find your pigeonhole and celebrate it, then you are actually doing something sort of savvy, from a business standpoint. i do feel like i have a lot to offer as an actor that people have not seen yet. i have a broader skill set. i am excited to share that and explore that. tavis: is there a serious side in there somewhere? >> yes. tavis: is there a dramatic side somewhere in there? >> yes, there is a serious side. i just did a movie called "jeff, who lives at home," with jason
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segel, who is a great comedian, but we actually had some really serious stuff in there, and i would not call it a drama, but i think down the road, i am open-minded to that sort of thing. but just to answer your question, i am not afraid of typecasting. i do not want to do the same guy in everything, but it really was about -- that distinct between "the daily show" and "the office" was not like is he a similar guy. it is, is he something other than a fake newscaster? can he do something other thanso to me, it was that versus acting, because nobody even knew i could act at that point. tavis: so i assume that i know ere swan to this, but let me not make the assumption -- no regrets about the choice to leave? >> no. >> no. it has been just -- well, it obviously opened up tremendous opportunities for me. it was "the office" that caught todd phillips' attention, the
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director of "the hangover," so that is how i got on "the hangover," and i also love "the office." i love that cast and our crew and our staff. thing to be a part of, and i am insanely proud. i was telling somebody this weekend, andy bernard, my character on "the office," is one of my proudest achievements as an entertainer. i think no matter what i do down the road, i will always look back and cherish this time asi love it. tavis: that is why? >> because -- i do not know. i hope this doe snot sound narcissistic, but andy bernard makes me laugh. i like to think about how andy bernard would handle a situation, and we are on-set, and when we are shooting a scene, it is just fun. it is fun for me to kind of
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like get into that ridiculous character. tavis: i am laughing, because if it makes you narcissistic, then we are all narcissistic, because andy bernard makes all of us laugh. that regard. so we talked a moment ago about the fact that carell leaves the building, the series goes on, with changes, of course, for the eighth season. so what is going to happen? is there going to be a ninth season of "the office?" have they told you guys yet? >> they have not told us officially, but i think that we are sort of on that path. whether or not a tv series is in some ways a technicality, but it is an important one, and we actually have not crossed that official line, but i have every reason to believe that we will be back. tavis: "the office" is funny,
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and, obviously, people watch it for the laughs, but i sense that we watch "the office" for more than just the laughs. am i right about that? if i am, what else are we relating to in this sitcom? important, tavis. tavis: [laughter] >> we are changing culture, we are changing stereotypes and perceptions out there, and we are having an impact. i think that that is why i get a weekly call from barack obama, just to -- tavis: just to check in. [laughter] >> jjust to check in and make sure that we are taking our responsibility seriously, as a 30-minute comedy show on nbc. tavis: [laughter] >> i appreciate the question, because i think that it tapped -- my own feeling about "the office" is that we tap in to something awkward and a little bit unpleasant in people's daily lives and routines and the ruts that we get in and the frustrations that we have in our jobs. they are just things that we all relate to, and it is just really nice to watch other people squirm and laugh at them
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in a fictional context. now, if you are doing that in real life, to real people who are really squirming -- [laughter] then you are kind of a sicko. but if it is a comedy tv show, then i think that is what people respond to. tavis: so let's talk about the satire that we referenced a moment ago. so i offered a confessional a moment ago. "the daily show" had invited me to come on. "colbert" had invited me to come on a number of times. work, and i think they are funny, and i think they do something important for the culture, which is to make us see the dysfunction in our body politic, so i get what they do and i respect what they do. i just did not think it workedi was scared to do it. why was i so scared all this time? >> because you are an intelligent man and you know that they -- it used to be -- we are very manipulative and have fun with our targets.
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it is not a fair playing field. that is probably what you understand. tavis: that is exactly what it is. >> better than most people. now, were you invited to chat with jon stewart or to be in a field piece? tavis: that is a good question. i am not sure. i think it was a chat with jon. i am not sure about that. >> because in that context, you are safe. jon is a bright guy and a respectful guy and obviously a brilliant comedian, and he is a very genuinely intellectually curious person, so he is subjects. i love to watch him interview. i think he is one of the greatest out there. but the field pieces, which is what i did, those i cannot in good conscience encourage anyone --
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[laughter] to ever agree to do, and i apologize to my buddies who still work at "the daily show." it is an inherently manipulative process, and people agree to be in those segments, thinking that they get it, that they understand the way we operate, and they are not going to be a victim to it. it is impossible for you to sit down for a field piece interview and win. tavis: yes. [laughter] >> because we leave with all the footage and we control the presentation. tavis: that is right. >> we control how the audience sees it. that is so much of the fun, but it is also part of the manipulation. and, you know,candidly, for me, there were parts of that aspect to it that never sat well with me, like i was raised in a southern family that was
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hospitable and gracious, and my mom taught me to always make people feel comfortable. here i am in this job -- tavis: skewering people. >> -where i have to create tension and awkwardness for real, with real people, and -- tavis: given how you were raised, how did you get so good at that? because you were pretty good at this. >> i think i just had to sort of swallow that -- well, stephen colbert gave me the best advice. when i first started on the show, literally like day one, i was about to leave on my first field piece and i was so nervous, i was excited. i was confident that i could do the show. i was a big fan of the show and i'd watched it religiously, and i felt like i can do this. i asked stephen, "do you have any advice for me? i am about to go on my first field shoot," and he said, "ed, hang your soul up in the closet. you can come back for it later."
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[laughter] tavis: "come back and get it later." >> "come back and get it later." but you will have no need for it as long as you are working here. that actually was pretty interesting advice, and i think maybe i did hang it up there for -- tavis: i want to ask a question about satire in a second, and to your point about "colbert," so the show that i chose to do was "the colbert report," and i did it because i have been on a book tour with my friend dr. cornel west for a book about poverty. it is called "the rich and the rest of us," and i knew, or at least i thought -- and dr. west had been on "colbert" a number of times, so he was assuring me that i would survive this and it would be ok. one. >> right. tavis: oh, yeah, we sat side-by- side. >> oh, ok, good, good. tavis: and colbert never does two guests in this one-on-one thing. tavis: but he had both of us on together, so we are sitting there, and it turns out colbert is a very nice person, as you know, on a personal level, the
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nicest guy. i was very pleased to meet him. but i thought it would make sense for us to do it, because here is a very serious subject about poverty, and playing the character that he plays, i knew the tension would be good and allow us to get our points out, so i methodically went through whether or not it made sense for me. i did it, and i am actually glad i did. i had a good time. but i say all that to say that i knew colbert was popular, and i knew that people watched his show, but i have been on everything in the last few weeks on this book tour about poverty, and the response to that colbert appearance has just been un-freaking-believable. i raise all that to ask what is it about our culture, about our society, that makes that kind of political satire work so well today? >> we are so just rife with hypocrisy. it is all around us. it is everywhere. it is not just even in the political forum, it is in the media coverage. the news coverage of politics is just so abundantly hypocritical at times. i think that just from my
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experience on "the daily show," that is what we always looked for. it was never an ideological angle, like how do we skewer the right wing or whatever. it was always who is being hypocritical here. that is the very foundation of "the colbert report" is a character who is so ridiculously hypocritical -- tavis: [laughs] >> and self-involved that i think that it is a release valve for fans who are just sort of fed up and angry with all of this hypocrisy around us, and then they get to see a guy like jon stewart just nail it, like really surgically dissect why what barack obama said in that situation was ludicrously
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hypocritical, or what bill o'reilly said, or whomever. it is also fun. ende's a little bit of an of the day it is just for laughs, and so it has some meaty content and some fun to it. tavis: there is great documentation, of course, that bears this point out, as you know, having been there for four or five seasons, that so many young people actually get their news from jon stewart. >> right. tavis: is that a healthy thing? >> that would be as healthy as doing your grocery shopping at a candy store. [laughter] i have heard that, and i always used to sort of not really believe it. tavis: come on, you believe that. they love this guy. everybody watches him. >> i know people love the show, but you don't get the show unless you have some wider context. so i feel like people consume things and then they watch that
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and they're like, "oh, this is great, this is my favorite news source." but are people actually getting their first bit of information? i don't know. to get what stewart does you have to have some sense of what the news is that he is actually skewering. >> yes, that is my sort of hope for society. tavis: that is your hope, at least. >> that people are actually getting all of their news. tavis: that is funny. okay, before my time is up, tell me about this. how did you become a bluegrass lover? >> well, i grew up in atlanta and i spent summers at a camp in north carolina, and i think that it is just, you know -- bluegrass music has its sort of origins in -- my mom is from nashville, tennessee, as well, so bluegrass music kind of has its origins in the tennessee and north carolina kind of appalachian history, so it felt
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to me at a young age like an authentic thing, like something that i connected to, and i just, i do not know, i often say that if you like banjo music, it is a curse, and that you just cannot get away from it, but i do. i love the music, and i love to play the music, and there is something very soulful. there is a great sort of i like the community. i think that a lot of the musicians, the way the music has progressed and incorporated lots of other genres and styles and overlaps, it just is a vibrant and exciting thing. so mark flanagan, the proprietor of largo, which is a great venue here in l.a., he and i started this thing, the l.a. bluegrass situation, a couple of
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years ago. we're now in our third year. it is just been a lot of funs. it is roots, americana music. it is fans coming together. we started a website called thebluegrasssituation.com, and that is really just a resource for any fans of anything roots, americana, old-time. it is been a hell of a lot of fun. tavis: this year you got steve martin headlining. he was in this very chair not long ago, brought his banjo with him, played for us on the program. he is been here a few times. had a good time. >> he is the greatest. tavis: he is. >> he is actually been on -- this is our third year, he is been on every year. tavis: oh, cool. >> yeah, so he is a great supporter and participant, and now we're sort of linked up with some charitable efforts as well. so it is just - i am very excited about it. tavis: yeah, you should be. >> i am very, very proud of it. tavis: you should be. so is there going to be another "hangover" project? >> yes. tavis: in the works now? >> yes. we are cranking it up. in the fall sometime. tavis: cool. ed, i am glad to have you on.

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